In Naga, they’re tripping the light fantastic

Justin K. Vestil

For the second year, Uling National High School of Barangay Uling, City of Naga captured the top prize in the ritual showdown category of the 10th Dagitab Festival.

The mountain barangay’s only public high school bested seven other villages in the yearly dance festival organized by the City Government of Naga.

Due to the success of this year’s festival, City of Naga Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong plans to make it more challenging---raise the degree of difficulty, as top athletes would say---by including a theme in next year’s competition.

UNHS achieved back-to-back wins through a performance that celebrated the evolution of the “dagitab” in what used to be a sleepy southern town that, this year, marked its first decade as a city. “Dagitab” means electricity, but can also refer to “spark” or “torchlight.”

For capturing the top prize in the Ritual Showdown category, UNHS earned a cash prize of P65,000.

How they did it

Aside from getting the top prize in the Ritual Showdown category, UNHS placed second in the Street Dancing competition, winning an additional P30,000.

Performers of UNHS also won the award for Best in Costume for their colorful outfits, for which they received another cash prize of P15,000. They placed fifth in the Best in Audio Van category, earning a cash prize of P2,000.

In total, UNHS won P112,000 in cash.

Macky Pardillo, UNHS’s choreographer for two years, attributed their back-to-back victories to the consistent cooperation of school officials, students and parents.

Pardillo said that while he helped choreograph their winning performances in the last two years, their success also depended on the enthusiasm of teachers and students.

“Kung sa pelikula pa, igo ra ko modirect. Sila gyud ang tinood nga nagdala ug daog (If this were a movie, all I did was direct. They really won this because of their performance),” Pardillo said.

Pardillo, 23, served as a dance master for UNHS for five years before he was hired as a choreographer by the school in 2016.

Jared Revolteado, UNHS school head, attributed their success to their unity despite numerous adversities.

“Mao nang gitawag namo among grupo as “Pundok Nagkahiusang Pamilya” kay wala namo gitrato ang mga estudyante (We called the group One Family because we don’t just treat the students) as performers but as part of the family,” Revolteado told reporters.

More than 5 dozen dancers

Revolteado said they started preparing for their performance in the last week of October.

Their contingent was made up of 64 dancers and 400 props men, all students from Grades 7 to 12.

Barry Lawrence Bariquit, 13, the star dancer of the contingent, said it was the second time he participated in the Dagitab Festival and emerged a champion. Bariquit said he was confident that their school would win because they worked hard on this year’s performance. He hopes to make a repeat performance next year.

“Bahalag mainitan o makapuyan sa sayaw, basta padayon gihapon (We don’t mind the heat and exhaustion. We’ll just keep on going),” he added.

After UNHS, Naga National High School of Barangay West Poblacion won second place, with P50,000.

But NNHS successfully defended their title in the Street Dancing competition this year, winning an additional P40,000. They also placed second in the audio van category, winning P6,000.

Overall, NNHS won P96,000 in cash prizes.

Other winners in the Ritual Showdown category are Academia ni San Pedro Calungsod (ASPC) of Barangay East Poblacion in third place; Tuyan National High School in fourth; and Balirong National High School in fifth place.

In the Street Dancing category, other winners included ASPC in third place; Cebu Technological University-Naga Extension campus of Barangay Central Poblacion in fourth place; and Balirong National High School in fifth place.

For this year, the City Government increased the subsidy for the contingents.

From last year’s P120, 000 per contingent, the City increased the subsidy to P150,000, said Mayor Chiong.

Mayor Chiong stood pat on her decision to postpone the festival because of tropical storm Vinta, as the performers were able to prepare more without having to worry about the weather on the day itself.

For next year’s festival, Chiong said she is considering a theme to encourage the contingents to come up with better performances.